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$12 A Month For Facebook – Sprint Tramples Over Net Neutrality With New Prepaid Plan


Today, Sprint dispensed with all subtlety. Without any pretense of net neutrality whatsoever, the carrier unveiled a plan with options to pay more for unfettered access to social media and streaming music, depending on the tier. 

The Virgin Mobile Custom plan, sold under Sprint’s Virgin Mobile brand, provides unlimited access to one of four social media services – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest – on top of your data plan for $12 a month. An additional $10 will net unlimited use of all four, while $5 more grants unlimited streaming from any one music app. The base plan also includes 20 minutes of talk time and 20 texts, both of which can be upgraded. Lines start at $6.98 a month, $5 extra for “unlimited” access. Plans can be adjusted on the fly, even daily if so desired.

The plan, President of Prepaid at Sprint Dow Draper told the Wall Street Journal, isn’t currently part of a promotion – none of the companies featured are subsidizing connection costs, unlike AT&T’s Sponsored Data program, but he said “it’s definitely possible” down the road.

The new plan embodies the anti-net neutrality schemes advocates have been warning about for years. Instead of allowing data to flow unimpeded, Virgin Mobile Custom very clearly discriminates against a huge number of apps, ultimately relegating them to more restrictive data plans. If Sprint’s goal, as Mr. Draper implies, is to provide the Internet at palatable prices for poorer consumers, perhaps lower-cost (the cheapest data package Virgin is offering starts at $8 a month) capped but open access with an option to pay for more might be more appropriate . Heck, T-Mobile does it free for tablets – why can’t Sprint do the same for prepaid phones?

These plans will be made available through Walmart beginning August 9. Supported handsets include the LG Unify, LG Pulse, and ZTE Emblem.

Via: SprintWall Street Journal
  • dhinged

    What if I don’t want social sites or streaming media on my phone? What if I want a 2nd phone for work or something where I’ll never use that stuff?

    This plan looks very inviting to somebody like that. Just a basic smartphone that doesn’t have these distracting things.

    Sure I can just choose not to use them, but why pay more when I can get a discount for not using something I wouldn’t use anyways on the phone?

  • kira

    it’s kinda nice not having a cell phone

  • Dirtbag359 .

    Seeing as how Virgin Mobile is involved it shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
    The new CEO of Virgin Media is putting his cards on the table early, branding net neutrality “a load of bollocks” and claiming he’s already doing deals to deliver some people’s content faster than others. If you aren’t prepared to cough up the extra cash, he says he’ll put you in the Internet “bus lane”.

    In an interview with the Royal Television Society’s Television magazine, far from covering up their intentions, Virgin Media’s new incoming CEO Neil Berkett – who joined the Virgin Media Board just a few days ago – has launched an attack on the ideas and principles behind net neutrality.

    “This net neutrality thing is a load of bollocks,” he said, adding that Virgin is already in the process of doing deals to speed up the traffic of certain media providers.

  • HarvesterX

    Here’s a MAJOR one nobody seems to bring up. OK now that we are being offered certain sites for unlimited access why not add Google Play Store? With capped data plans any apps paid for or downloaded off Play Store sgouksbt count towards your cap. If that was how things were I wouldn’t be as hell bent on keeppibg my unlimited (but I’d still keep KT as long as I can of course)

  • Ionel Păpușoi

    you don’t want a contract anymore with an mobile operator, you can find here
    the completest list of prepaid plan providers from all the US.
    http://www.allprepaidplans.com/ has a list of more than 50 providers besides
    the four big networks. For many people this was great help. Hope it would also
    help you!

  • fuzzylumpkins

    it’s funny, T-Mobile did it because their network was fully capable of handling the extra traffic. Sprint is doing it to squeeze what little juice is left from their horribly neglected network.

  • Kevin C.

    Oh Hai hot your back let’s roll

  • David Compart

    I’m pretty torn on this issue. Personally people should pay for what they use and that even includes businesses. Now what worries me is the possible anti-competition used by these providers. Nobody likes long run monopolies. Then again, unions have destroy and bankrupt public telecom so that’s a tough thing to bankroll.

  • Jeremiah R.

    Cancelled Sprint just now, going with US Cellular. To hell with you.

  • Frank Gimsdale

    So what. There is no such thing as net neutrality. They own their network and they should be able to charge what they want and their customers free to disconnect and go elsewhere. Now if their customers thing this is a great idea, then perhaps others will catch on. If it fails and VM is harmed financially, this will be the last you’ll see of it for a long time.

    • OzzyLovesBabyShampoo

      You have no idea wtf you are talking about. Of course there is such a thing as net neutrality. That’s why greedy pukes are trying to destroy it however possible.

  • Collective82

    I bet it’s a stunt to show the FCC what happens when the internet isn’t protected.

  • Rick

    This has nothing to do with net neutrality at all. They are providing you a service for money. This is how all internet services work. If they were charging Facebook/Twitter/Youtube/etc. to deliver their content to you, then you would be talking about net neutrality. A company can form whatever plans they want, as far as charging consumers for access. You are always welcome to choose not to use their services. The point is that companies themselves should not have to/be able to pay for increased priority on the consumer’s ISP’s network.

    • OzzyLovesBabyShampoo

      And Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest should sue them for not giving equal / fair treatment.

  • Mathiuz De Jesús

    I wonder if Kyle bothered to read the official press release on these plans which are only sold at Walmart, and is directed to families who want access, control, and monthly costs which will not break a budget.


    Looks to me this report by Kyle and the guys at The Verge is nothing but a LAME DUCK attempt to put a black mark on a day where Sprint reported net income for the last quarter, as well as having lost far less customers than predicted by some loser in Wall Street.

    • OzzyLovesBabyShampoo

      You sure are a rabid “customer” of Sprint…. you lying sack of crap. http://i.imgur.com/ARmFRc9.png

      • Mathiuz De Jesús

        You look like a stalker, as someone who has been exposed for promoting competitors on Sprint’s social media.

        • OzzyLovesBabyShampoo

          No, I just happened to find this idiotic Facebook post RIGHT BEFORE I came here by Googling this crap after I saw the news on Reddit this morning. You are completely full of crap and pathetic. Try a little harder to pretend to be just a customer, scmuck.

          • Mathiuz De Jesús

            You brought it to the discussion, so you must be upset at me, probably because you were either banned or exposed as the troll you are, especially for not having a real profile picture on your profile…

            If I worked for Sprint’s social media, you would had been permanently banned from facebook via IP BAN. However, I do not have that luxury. Have you been sent here by any of the known bloggers/ediTROLLS in chief to try silencing me with antics like yours? You are failing as much as the one who wrote this article as it did not do the due diligence in reading the official press release from Sprint.

            Just because a customer is well aware of policy and provides FACTS over news which are as made up as a fairy tale does not mean it works for x or y company.

          • OzzyLovesBabyShampoo
          • Mathiuz De Jesús

            Funny thing no one else but you is complaining about bringing facts to the table. As a matter of fact, why don’t you reveal your real identity rather than hide with the “No More Tears” slogan from Johnson’s baby shampoo (which is a violation of usage of intelectual property owned by Johnson and Johnson)?

            Let me guess. You must be one of those things called internet trolls who got banned from all of Sprint’s social media and community forums for excessive trolling, spamming, harrassing, bullying, and stalking people who have exposed you for one or perhaps all the reasons mentioned above.

            What’s your real agenda against me?

          • OzzyLovesBabyShampoo
  • Matt Peterson

    Hi – I would like to strongly disagree with the author of this article. I am guessing that Kyle has a very basic understanding of Net Neutrality. If I pay for the full internet, I want the full internet because it’s what I’m paying for. If you only need facebook data, then only buy it. This isn’t a bad thing – it’s efficient. Virgin isn’t killing it’s data plans, it’s just making one plan for people who only talk, text, and use facebook on their smartphones. Data flow will be unimpeded, just focused for efficiency. They will also have data plans where you can reach the whole internet if you decide it’s worth it, and those plans are totally net-neutral.

    This article is fear-mongering, nothing more. I recommend those who read this article try to find a better understanding of the issue of Net Neutrality. This Virgin plan has nothing to do with the issue at hand and the article is making an issue where there is none.

    • OzzyLovesBabyShampoo

      You don’t understand how the world works.

  • allen

    This is a new style of SEGREGATION, most lower income individuals use Plans like this. Race and ethnicity type discrimination is gone, but in this new era it is all about CLASS and your money, and where you fit in on the scale, not black, white, pink, and green – but credit, income, what you spend.

  • JD

    Now I’m even MORE glad that I dropped Sprint.

  • Conor

    This is why I’ll be joining GiffGaff in the coming months. Great plans for sim free phones with unlimited texts and internet for only £12. That’s the kind of freedom cellular data needs, where choice of packages are available on the fly and you aren’t bound by a contract if you so wish!

  • Outpost

    Having looked up the plan; I can say either the author is flat our lying, or didn’t actually READ the site. This is downright fake.

  • Deuce Sevenoff

    How does this have anything to do with Net Neutrality? This appears to be about paying a flat rate for unlimited data for certain apps and web sites, exempting them from monthly data caps. Stop trying to see a conspiracy in everything.

    • Bobert

      you cannot be serious… or worst… are you?

    • asharpman

      You try starting a new social media platform when your competitors have the unbelievably unfair perk of unlimited access.

  • Gary

    In your dreams, Sprint.

  • Champion of Freedom


  • I don’t see that Sprint has a monopoly. So just don’t use their plan. If the basic plan sucks for the sites you do use, then don’t use them at all. The tiered access is only a problem in government created monopolies, like cable providers. You can make a case that companies enjoying a government enforced monopoly have to let government restrict their pricing plans. The danger in that, is that you could end up with only government monopolies. Can we just get government out of the internet?

    • asharpman

      It’s a huge detriment to competition and the equality of access to the internet. How do people not understand this? This sets a precedent for rich internet mega-companies to force out upcoming competitors from the market place.

      • Which companies and which competitors are you talking about? On a shared medium like the internet, the logical consequence is that access MUST (of mathematical necessity) be prioritized. The only question is what policy is used for that prioritization.

        One prioritization scheme is money. Should I not be able to pay extra to my ISP for a “premium plan” to hog extra bandwidth? Should my neighbor on the budget plan feel resentful when I’m downloading indie movies?

        On that last point, wide implementation of QoS is important. Internet packets can be tagged with the type of priority – the basics are low latency (what you want for VOIP, SSH, etc – the throughput is low but delays and dropped packets are nasty), high throughput (what you want when streaming video – the latency doesn’t matter), bulk (that big download can run in the background using bandwidth only when no one else is), and normal (for web browsing, etc). I would prefer an ISP that charges based on the QoS tags for packets I send. So when I download Fedora, my app sets “bulk”, and it doesn’t bother the neighbors and is really cheap.

        Perhaps I’m wrong, but you seem to be advocating one of two things (I’m not sure which):

        1) there be no prioritization at all by law, and all packets are queued first come first served, and all plans must be law be the same price for the same pipe size regardless of usage.

        2) government bureaucrats allocate bandwidth to subscribers based on political influence instead of money

        • asharpman

          I’m referring to websites. So imagine a small upstart company creating a new social media website to compete with twitter or instagram. Now imagine twitter and instagram having the money to make deals with internet providers such that their website gets unlimited high speed access, while the upcoming competitor gets lower speed and limited access. All of a sudden the cards are stacked against the competition unfairly.

          • Ronald Touchet

            This is America. You get the opportunity that you can afford, if you can’t, well then too bad for you. It saves the big name players from having to buy the competition when the landscape is unbalanced.

          • So Twitter uses 1000 times as much bandwidth as MyGossip, and pays 1000 times as much as MyGossip. I don’t see the problem here. Are you suggesting that the government subsidize MyGossip so that they don’t have to pay as much for more bandwidth as they grow? When would the subsidy stop? What is “unfair” about paying for the bandwidth needed for your business?

            Using the phrase “unlimited high speed access” show a complete lack of understanding of networking on your part. There is NO SUCH THING as “unlimited” internet access – no matter what the marketroid from your ISP says. The links all have a finite bandwidth, which is oversubscribed to keep costs down. You can actually buy a dedicated link – but it still has a finite bandwidth, and is still shared where it connects to the global internet. Companies like facebook and twitter *do* in fact purchase multiple dedicated links to internet trunks. Are you suggesting they should be forbidden to do that??

          • I think what you may be trying to describe is a Microsoft / Coke / Pepsi scenario. Microsoft sells its products at a steep discount to OEMs on condition that the OEM sell Microsoft products exclusively on all their products. Microsoft can get away with this because of their huge market share. Coke and Pepsi have a similar arrangement with restaurants – a Coke restaurant can only sell Coke products, if they want to get the soda cheaply. Same for Pepsi.

            You may be fearing a scenario where Facebook makes a deal with a large number of ISPs to pay lotsa $$$ provided they actively throttle all non-facebook traffic (or maybe all traffic not in the facebook consortium).

            This kind of scheme only succeeds with consumer ignorance. Most people keep buying Microsoft products. But there *is* a market in cheap used PCs for those of us with a little more knowledge (and can put Linux/BSD/Solaris/etc on them) – *and* a market in expensive Apple products for those with a little more dough. So while I am offended by the “Microsoft Tax”, and avoid paying it (by buying a new PC) as a point of honor, I am happy to spend $200 on my laptop instead of $2000.

            In the same way, while most consumers will remain blissfully ignorant that their “mainstream” ISP only provides efficient access to “facebook consortium” websites – those of us who are more knowledgeable will use smaller ISPs, like WISPs. Those with more money will buy “premium” service from ISPs that haven’t signed with Facebook so they can sell to the premium market.

            This is not ideal, but consumer education is the only real solution. Government deciding who can sell what to who based on politics would be even worse.